Summer Quinoa Stir-Fry
- 3 T. olive oil, divided
- 1 T. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 pound extra firm tofu (NOT SILKEN), pressed and chopped into 1/2" cubes
- Salt, to taste
- 1 T. minced garlic
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
- 8 ounces cherry tomatoes
- 5 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 1/2 cup roughly chopped kale
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
- 2/3 cup raw pine nuts (optional)
- Pepper, to taste
- In a small bowl, combine 2 T. of the olive oil and the lemon juice. Set aside.
- In a large wok or skillet, heat 1 T. of the olive oil over high heat, swirling the pan to coat it evenly. Add the tofu cubes and season lightly with salt. Turn down the heat to medium and cook for several minutes, flipping the tofu periodically to ensure even browning, until the tofu cubes are golden brown on all sides.
- Add the garlic and the shallot to the pan, and cook for just about one minute, or until the garlic is lightly fragrant. Add the bell peppers and cherry tomatoes and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes longer, or until the skins on the cherry tomatoes just begin to wither and blacken. Add the quinoa, kale, and basil. Stir in the the lemon-olive oil mixture, and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes longer, scooping up the quinoa and vegetables from the bottom of the pan to ensure even cooking. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the pine nuts if using. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.
A NOTE ON STIR-FRIES:
- Stir-fries are one of those dishes that seem to pop up frequently in the home of every vegan, vegetarian, and dairy-freer that I know, and with good reason: stir-fries don't require dairy ingredients or animal ingredients to be amazing. Over the years, I've had my share of bad ones and good ones (and I've made my share of both, too). The main problems that new cooks encounter when making a stir-fry has to do with two things: the heat of the pan and the amount of oil.
- If you've ever had a greasy, lack-luster stir-fry, it's probably because 1.) the pan wasn't hot enough at the get-go, 2.) instead of adding ingredients gradually based on their water-content and on how quickly they cook, the ingredients were added all at once and 3.) when everything started to dry out or burn, the cook just added in a ton of oil to try to compensate.
- The way to make sure these things don't happen is really just a matter of being organized and patient:
- When you start out with any stir-fry, make sure that all of your ingredients are out and ready to go into the pan before you turn on the stove. If you have to scramble around at the last second to chop something or find something, chances are that you'll return to the pan only to realize that things are burning.
- Make sure that your pan is piping hot before you add the first splash of oil to it, then twist the pan to coat it evenly with the oil, and then after you've added your first ingredient, turn down the heat to medium to continue cooking.
- Be smart about how you time things; don't add everything all at once. Start with your protein and maybe some of your root and bulb vegetables like garlic and onions, then work your way into heartier veggies and grains, and finish with your quick-cooking greens. Adding an extra tablespoon or so of a simple marinade or sauce along with the grains like I did in the above recipe adds even more assurance that everything in the pan will be crisp and evenly-cooked but not dry.)